Libido and Women: When is Your Peak?
Expert’s Name: Stephanie Ackerman
Vaginal Dryness: Dry as the Sahara Desert
Warning: This column talks about an embarrassing, but important topic, vaginal dryness. Someone has to talk about it. It might as well be me. It happens to many women as we begin our menopausal journey. Vaginal dryness!
Remember back to your first sexually arousing experience? Your juices flowed. Perhaps you even remember getting that wet feeling while reading a book,watching television or a movie, seeing a good looking person walk by. Your hormones were at their peak. They were working in overdrive. You most likely felt like this in your teens and 20s. I did.
The 30s left me less slick, but with a little manipulation and imagination, once again I was left slip sliding away. My husband still commented on how wet and hot I was. I still felt vibrant, sexy, and knew that my vagina had the power to give my partner complete ecstasy. Even though I had young children, felt tired many nights, I was still able to feel the juices flow.
Then my 40s arrived and I hit the brakes. Having sex hurt; all of a sudden it felt like my insides were being sanded by a sandblaster. What happened to warm, wet, and juicy? What happened to normal foreplay producing enough lubrication for intercourse to feel comfortable? It didn’t matter if the mood was right, if my husband gave me multiple orgasms, or if I used the latest power tool that does everything but wash windows. Sex hurt. The deep innards of my vagina were dry and arid.
Why Am I Dry?
When women reach peri-menopause hormonal changes affect the amount and thickness of the vagina’s wetness. Women may also experience itchiness or a burning sensation. When women are sexually aroused, blood flow increases to the pelvic area and creates more lubrication in the vagina.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “reduced estrogen levels are the main cause of vaginal dryness. Estrogen, a female hormone, helps keep vaginal tissue healthy by maintaining normal vaginal lubrication, tissue elasticity and acidity. These factors create a natural defense against vaginal and urinary tract infections. But, when your estrogen levels decrease, so does this natural defense, leading to a thinner, less elastic and more fragile vaginal lining. Also, you should be aware, that allergy and cold medications can lead to vaginal dryness and douching can lead to a chemical imbalance in the vagina.
Ooey, Gooey, and Gushy Lubrication
It is important for sexual relations in peri-menopausal women to find a way to make sex less painful. This means finding a way to make your vagina wet and welcome. My first piece of advice is to enjoy the shopping and buy lots of products to explore. There are products that heat up, have menthol, scents, and flavors. If your partner uses a condom, check to make sure that any product you use doesn’t lessen the effectiveness of your birth control. Look for water based lubricants, which go well with the ph balance of the vaginal environment and will maintain the integrity of a condom.
Menopausal women can still experience their own lubrication, but it may take more time and stimulation. Be up front with your partner on what you like and how you want to be touched. Oral stimulation can have the benefit of improving arousal and the saliva greatly helps with lubrication. Communication with your partner can ease the stress of the situation and increase your connection, which in of itself can create more warmth and wetness.
Speak with your doctor about vaginal estrogen therapy. There are crimes, rings, and pills that may help with hormonal imbalance and one of these therapies may be right for you. If you come from a family with history of breast cancer, you may not want to add estrogen therapy. Be sure to mention your history to your doctor and do your own research before considering one of these options.
Relaxation is the key. If you focus on the pain you may feel, you automatically tense up and juices won’t flow as freely. Anxiety can cause tenseness. Try to turn anxiety in to anticipation. Try visual imagery to relax you. Picture yourself in a place of relaxation, a place that makes you happy. Breathe long, deep breaths. Embrace all the sensations that your body feels while your partner explores and supports you. With a little patience, relaxation, creativity, and some added wetness you can have a juicy, wet , enjoyable sexual experience in your 40s, 50s, and beyond. Have fun experimenting.
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